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EORGE the Second, by the Grace of God, King of G:eat Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c.
To all whom these Presents shall come Greeting: Whereas WILIAM Owen, and William JOHNSTON, of Our City of London, Booklellers, have, by their Petition, humbly represented unto Us, That, they have, with great Care, Labour and Expence, compleated a Work, entitled,
A NEW and GENERAL
CONTAINING The Lives of the most illustrious Persons, who have flourished in all
Nations, from the earliest Period to the Present Time, And have most humbly prayed, That We would grant Them Our Royal Licence, for the sole Vending of their faid Dictionary, for the Term of Fourteen Years, according to the Statute in that Cafe made and provided; We, being willing to give all due Encouragement, to a Work of 'this Nature, which may be of public Use and Benefit, are graciously pleased to condescend to Their Request; And We do, therefore, by these Presents, (so far as may be agreeable to the Statute, in that behalf made and provided ;) grant unto Them, the said WILLIAM Owen, and WILLIAM JOHNSTON, Their Heirs, Executors, and Affigns, Our Royal Privilege and Licence for the sole printing, publishing, and vending their faid Dictionary, for the Term of Fourteen Years; to be computed from the Date hereof, strictly forbidding and prohibiting all Our Subjects within Our Kingdoms and Dominions, to reprint, abridge, or translate the same, either in the like or any other Volume or Volumes whatsoever ; or, to import, buy, vend, utter, or distribute any Copies thereof, reprinted, beyond the Seas, during the aforefaid Term of Fourteen Years, without the Consent and Approbation of them, the said WILLIAM Owen and WILLIAM JOHNSTON, their Heirs, Executors, or Alligns, by Writing under their Hands and Seal, first had and obtained, as they and every of them offending herein will answer the contrary at their Peril. Whereof the Commissioners and other Officers of Our Customs, the Mafter Wardens and Company of Stationers of Our City of London, and all other Our Officers and Ministers whom it may concern, are to take Notice, that due Obedience be rendered to Our Pleasure herein fignified. Given t Our Court at Kensington the Twenty-third Day of October 1755; in the Twenty-ninth Year of Our Reign.
By His Majesty's Command,
An Historical and Critical) Account
LIVES and WRITINGS
In every NATION;
From the Earliest Accounts of Time to the present Period,
Their remarkable ACTIONS or SUFFERINGS,
their VIRTUES, PARTS, and LEARNING, are
L O N D ON:
W. STRAHAN, T. PAYNE, W. Owen, W. JOHNSTON,
PREF A C E.
S it is unnecessary to shew the usefulness
of an accurate historical account of such persons and facts as have been the objects of public attention in all ages and nations, nothing more can be expected in a preface to this work, than an account of the manner in which it is executed, and the reasons why it was not thought to be precluded by any other work of the same kind that is already extant.
The principal of these works are Bayle's Historical and Critical Dictionary; the General Dictionary; the Biographia Britannica; the Athena Oxonienses, and Mr. Collier's Hiftorical Dictionary.
Bayle's work is in five large volumes in folio, yet there are many persons of great eminence both antient and modern, whom Bayle has not
so much as named, though he has mentioned others of whom nothing is known, but that they were the occasion or the subject of some useless controversy, the very terms of which few understand, and the merits of which a small part even of those few are disposed to examine. Bayle's Lives are indeed nothing more than a ve, hicle for his criticism, and his work seems to have been chiefly the transcript of a voluminous common-place book, in which he had inserted his own remarks on the various authors he had read, and gratified his peculiar turn of mind by discussing their opinions and correcting their mistakes; it is therefore rather a miscellany of critical and metaphysical speculations, than a system of Biography.
The General Dictionary, as it includes Bayle, is so far liable to the same objections: it is indeed augmented with other articles, but they also are written in Bayle's manner, and for that reason the work upon the whole is not much better adapted to general ufe. There are many redundancies, and yet there are many defects; and there is besides an objection of more weight though of another kind, the work consisting of no less than ten volumes in folio, for which the purchaser must pay much more than so many pounds.